Today, March 21, 2022, is World Down Syndrome Day. On this day, people throughout the…
Thirteen years ago a landlord made life miserable for Sidiki Conde by throwing out his wheelchair from the lobby of his rent controlled fifth floor walk up apartment. After the New York Times got involved, the landlord said it was “inadvertently thrown out by the cleaning crew.”
Now, Sidiki has received a notice from the landlord stating: “Commencing April 1, 2013 anything left in public hallways will be deemed abandoned and disposed of by the Landlord.”
I would like to see the landlord crawl up five flights of steps carrying a wheelchair. Sidiki, who lost use of both legs at age 14, is an inspiration to all those he comes in contact with. He is a talented dancer, composer and musician who brings joy to children with special needs.
Thankfully there are laws protecting people with disabilities in New York City. According to South Brooklyn Legal Services, Sidiki has the right not to be discriminated against by his landlord.
He has the right ask his landlord for a “reasonable accommodation,” which is a change in the landlord’s practices and procedures, or a change to the physical space of his apartment or public areas in his building. A “reasonable accommodation” is a change that is related to your specific disability and does not impose extremely high costs on your landlord or cause harm or discomfort to other tenants.
If his landlord refuses Sidiki’s request for a reasonable accommodation, then Sidiki has the right to sue his landlord in a court of law. He may also file a discrimination complaint with a city agency called the New York City Commission on Human Rights (212-306-7500) or a state agency called the New York State Division of Human Rights (212-961-4800). Sidiki clearly will need legal counsel to advise him. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens to Sidiki…
Sidiki was recently featured in a documentary entitled: You Don’t Need Feet to Dance, and is a Theresa Award Recipient (www.theresafoundation.org).
Each summer Sidiki teaches a master class for children with special needs at the Theresa Academy of Performing Arts (www.tapany.org). For more information on the life of Sidiki Conde, visit: www.vjrussolaw.com/familycomesfirst.